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Dental plaque and tartar – a closer look

9 June 2017

In order to effectively prevent cavities and periodontal diseases the regular removal of the deposits from our teeth is necessary. Amongst these deposits we can find the dental plaque and tartar.

How does the dental plaque form?

It’s a colorless, bacterial residue which sticks to our teeth. It consists of the combination of saliva and remains of food and drinks we consumed. It appears in the mouth of every person, around 4 to 12 hours after brushing our teeth. The biggest deposits of dental plaque can be found in the places hardest to reach – right above the gums, next to gingival pockets and in the interdental surfaces.

Preventing the dental plaque

The plaque can be removed relatively easily with good, daily oral hygiene. We should remember about:

– careful brushing of our teeth twice a day, 3 minutes each,

– using dental floss or interdental toothbrush every day,

– using a mouthwash,

– reducing foods rich in sugar,

– visiting the dentist regularly.

Consequences of not removing the plaque

The dental plaque can lead to tooth discolorations. It’s also food for bacteria and fungi – failing to remove it regularly leads to cavities.

Dental plaque deposits forming in our mouths is tied to the salts contained in our saliva. If it’s not properly removed, afte ronly 2 – 3 days it’ll start undergoing the mineralization, turning into tartar.

What is tartar?

It’s a residue, yellow or brown in color, consisting of living and dead bacteria. We generally distinguish two types of tartar:

  • Tartar above the gum line – it’s relatively soft and easy to remove. We can notice it without any problems.
  • Tartar below the gum line – invisible to the naked eye. It forms near the root of the tooth and sticks closely to it. It’s very hard, brown or dark green in color. Very difficult to remove.

An increased risk of tartar forming is mostly affecting the people whose diet is rich in simple sugars and canned foods, the chain smokers and the people who drink lots of black tea and coffee. It’s also more common amongst the elderly.

The consequences of tartar deposits

First and foremost, such residue is unsightly and has a negative impact on the looks of our teeth. It’s also highly porous, causing it to discolorate easily, while also collecting stains.

Second, tartar is a nest of bacteria. Leaving it be in our mouth will have many bad consequences which will have a negative effect on our health. Tartar might lead to the gums bleeding while brushing our teeth, unpleasant taste in our mouths and bad breath. It also increases the probability of the cavities forming and might lead to periodontal diseases.

If tartar isn’t removed regularly, it starts going down, leading to tooth neck exposure and forming of deposits below the gum line. If this process won’t be stopped, the tissue attaching our teeth to the jawbone will get damaged which might lead to us losing our teeth!

Can tartar be removed at home?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Tartar is strongly attached to the enamel, which requires us to see the dentist. The process of removal works like this:

  • Scaling – it’s a procedure based around professional removal of tartar using the chosen method (traditional, ultrasound, laser or chemical).
  • Sanding – the dentist removes the plaque, discolorations and small amounts of tartar still remaining after scaling. The procedure is done by using the dental sandblaster, which shoots out water containing tiny cleaning particles.
  • Polishing – After clenaing the enamel, the dentist will enhance it to make it more resistant against cavities.
  • Securing the teeth using fluoride.

Even if tartar removal is painless, it’s still expensive and takes a long time, as it will require multiple appointments. That’s why preventing the forming of tartar by maintaining good oral hygiene is better than removing it later.

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